Passaic YouthBuild helping Sandy victims

7 On Your Side with Nina Pineda

Seven On Your Side
July 26, 2013 2:45:31 PM PDT
Half a billion dollars in relief money was raised in the weeks and months following Superstorm Sandy.

And now, charities are being asked to show how much of those funds are helping victims.

Getting connected with the right charity was a lifeline for a family 7 On Your Side met the night of the storm.

Only this week, they are getting repairs from Sandy their home desperately needed.

The sound of repair and cleanup is music to the ears of these homeowners.

"I didn't think there were people left in this world so willing to help," said Lorraine and Freddie Ortiz.

Their flooded basement in Little Ferry's been silent since the night the family was rescued by boat during Superstorm Sandy; their third flood sapped any savings to fix it up.

That was until now; enter Passaic YouthBuild, a non-profit program sponsored of St. Paul's Community Development Corp.

"I'm actually trying to help out other people and helping to restore their homes," said Raoul Ververna, a Passaic YouthBuild member.

"It's a good opportunity to start over start fresh," another member said.

All members are part of AmeriCorps and earn their GEDs while getting a nationally recognized certification in Basic Skills Construction while they're pitching in.

"So part of this program is the opportunity for our team to transform their community and their own lives," said Jasmine Joseph Wheeler, the Passaic YouthBuild Director.

Superstorm Sandy donations to places like the Volunteer Center of Bergen County and St. Paul's connected the Ortiz's with YouthBuild.

"I'm so appreciative for this you have no idea!" Lorraine Ortiz said.

But not all charity money has made it to actual victims of the storm.

"It's very important for people to understand how much bang they're getting for their buck," New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.

On "Up Close with Diana Williams" on Sunday, New York's Attorney General said a recent report compiled by his office found five months after Sandy hit, 42% of the charity money raised hadn't been spent.

"We want to make sure that the good non-profits get recognition and the money is getting out to the victims as fast as possible," Schneiderman said.

In the case of YouthBuild, Sandy victims get help and give help too.

"It makes me feel great about myself, I'm achieving something making them happy and making myself happy," a member said.

Before rebuilding that house in Little Ferry, Jorge and his team rebuilt a house in Seabright.

You want to make sure groups like this get your money, investigate before you donate, every state has a charity database, and in New York charities are even rated.

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